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Apprenticeships have long played second fiddle to university. While university is the glamorous belle, an apprenticeship is the dowdy cousin, courted only by those who can aim no higher. But not all students should be tilting at university, and for many, apprenticeships should be a first choice, not a consolation prize. The persistence of anti-apprenticeship prejudice is not for want of effort. Donald Trump and his U.K. equivalent Alan Sugar have done their best to inject some much-needed pizzazz into apprenticeship, and National Apprenticeship Week in the U.K. this month included the likes of Barlcays and PwC as apprenticeships moved from blue-collar to blue-chip. U.S. stocks are closing slightly lower following disappointing economic news from China and Japan. The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged down a point to close at 1,877 Monday. It had been down 11 points earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 34 points, or 0.2 percent, to 16,418. The Nasdaq composite fell two points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 4,334. Royal Dutch Shell's entire Houston-to-Houma crude oil pipeline remained shut on Monday, following a reported leak late last week, the company said. Construction crew members accidentally punctured the Ho-Ho line near Port Neches, Texas, about 100 miles east of Houston, on Thursday afternoon, releasing about 364 barrels of crude oil. Destin Singleton, a Shell spokeswoman said "I am unable to speculate on how long the line will remain shut down." Singleton added that the company has deployed absorbent booms and vacuum trucks to the site of the leak to contain and recover the crude. Germany's BMW said it saw strong demand for the i8 hybrid sportscar which will go into series production in April and start customer deliveries in June. "Demand for the BMW i8 is already exceeding the planned production volume during ramp-up," BMW said in a statement on Monday, without giving a more specific figure for how many cars will be made during this phase. Green cars, and electric vehicles in particular remain a niche product, because their limited vehicle range limits their use when compared with gasoline or diesel-powered cars.

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